WA Boys Bring it home: Men’s 20 & Under National Championships Wrap

Gold Medal Game: Western Australia win to prevent NSW from claiming seventh successive title

Western Australia have won the 20 & Under National Championships, breaking the New South Wales stranglehold on the tournament with a decisive 20-15 victory over the NSW Blues at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

RELATED: 20 & Under National Championships results and standings

An outstanding effort from WA left-handers Luke Pavillard and Jordan Kremers-Taylor underpinned the victory, with the former scoring seven goals for the game, while the latter was named MVP of the tournament.

Although WA led by a margin of 15-5 at one stage in the game and never looked troubled for victory, Kremers-Taylor said that the team needed to be careful not to make too many mistakes against a NSW side who would capitalise on any opportunity presented to them.

“We knew NSW were a good team coming into the game, and were mindful that if we made just one mistake in the game, they would be all over us. Inevitably we did make a few small errors and they came back at us, which was reflected on the scoreboard,” Kremers-Taylor said.

Western Australia’s Andrew Ford on his way to three goals for the game (Pic: Pearse Photography)

Western Australia set the tone of the game from the outset to score seven goals, Pavillard setting the pool alight with three of his own to hand WA a 7-3 lead at half time. The second term offered a similar story as WA added a further eight goals, while NSW could manage just four as they trailed 15-7 at the final break.

With their back against the wall, NSW needed a breakout quarter to slow the scoring rate of WA during the third period, and responded to the half time talk delivered by coach Chris Dyson to put away six goals to WA’s three, two of which were scored by Conor Wolohan, 18-13 the difference at the final break.

The final period had the makings of a grandstand finish, the Blues carrying momentum and within striking range of victory, Western Australia needing to defend against any attacks. However WA held on to keep the NSW side at bay and ensure they went home with the national title.

Although the WA side had held the belief they could win the tournament since day one, Pavillard reflected that the team had needed to refocus after underperforming on day one of the competition.

“Our first game was a bit rocky, especially our first quarter when we had expected to come in and be strong, but we had our opponents come out and play really well against us and put us in a position we hadn’t expected,” Pavillard said.

“Over the week we improved, which was the import coming into the final today and we really played some of our best water polo.”

Awards

MVP: Jordan Kremers-Taylor (WA)

Best Goalkeeper: Anthony Hrysanthos (NSW)

Bronze Medal Game

The NSW Waratahs have walked away from the men’s 20 & Under National Championships with a bronze medal following a 13-9 victory over Victoria on the sixth and final day of play.

Tom Gilbert was in good touch for NSW as he put away five goals for the game, Angus Lambie following close behind with three goals, as their side slowly edged away to victory across all four quarters.

It was a relatively slow start to the game, with NSW taking more than half of the first quarter to put away their first two goals, Victoria unable to respond until just three minutes remained. A further three goals between the two sides highlighted the final two minutes before the first break, the score 4-2 in favour of NSW.

While Victoria were in the frame to challenge for victory at the beginning of the second term, they weren’t able to capitalise on all their opportunities as NSW relied on their set attack, and a penalty goal to Lachlan Trabinger to be leading 8-4 at the main break.

If Victoria hoped to grasp victory, the third period would need to be the game breaker, and they responded accordingly to score three goals, two from Cameron Gilmour, to draw within three of the lead at the final change, the score 10-7.

With victory theirs to lose, NSW controlled the final quarter to score three goals, the Victorians unable to put away more than two, as the Waratahs secured the win to end their tournament.

5th v 6th

Queensland won a thrilling fifth place playoff on the final day of action at the men’s 20 & Under National Championships, defeating South Australia in a 15-14 affair at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

It was the men from the sunshine state that opened up the early advantage in the first half of the game, only to see it whittled away in the third portion of the game as South Australia put together an impressive comeback.

The Queenslanders opened the scoring courtesy of Zac Hudson as they raced to a three goal, 4-1 lead at the first break. The advantage over South Australia extended in the second term to 10-4, Queensland seemingly cruising to victory.

Despite their six goal deficit, South Australia turned up the heat in the third period as they stacked on eight of their own goals, Andrew van der Pennen adding three, to be trailing by just one goal, 13-12 at the final change.

With the victory on offer for either team at the beginning of the final stanza, it was Queensland who stood up to be counted first, their efforts eventually rewarded with victory.

Official Awards

Best Referee of the Tournament: David Gerrie

Day Four: NSW Blues & Wester Australia have booked places in the Championship Final

The NSW Blues and Western Australia have booked a place in the championship final at the men’s 20 & Under National Championships after both secured wins on day four of the competition at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

RELATED: 20 & Under National Championships results and standings

RELATED: Updated schedule for final day of competition

For the Blues it was a physically demanding 12-9 victory against their NSW counterparts, the Waratahs that gave them an entry to the final, while Western Australia accounted for Victoria 17-7 to qualify for the big dance.

It had been an arm wrestle between the Blues and the Waratahs in the first game, as the Blues jumped to a three-goal lead, 4-1 at the first break. Momentum soon changed in the second stanza to see the Waratahs hit back with three goals, while limiting the Blues to one, as they trailed 5-4 at the main break.

An upset victory to the Waratahs wasn’t out of the realms of possibility at the beginning of the second half as Angus Lambie picked up where teammate David Jensen had left off in the second term, scoring the opening goal in the third stanza to equalise the game 5-5.

Despite the best efforts of the Waratahs, the remaining six minutes of the third term belonged to the Blues as they jumped to a 9-5 lead, maintaining their margin in the final period of the game to ensure a spot in the final.

While the Blues had a fight on their hands in their qualification for the final, Western Australia were methodical in the way they established a lead over Victoria to ensure they would be in with a shot at the national championship on day five.

A modest 3-1 lead at the first break suggested that Victoria would be able to throw down a challenge to WA in the second semi, and a close contest seemed increasingly likely at half time when the margin between the two sides remained the same, the score 6-4 in favour of WA.

With a place in the finals on the line, WA came out firing in the third quarter to find the back of the cage on seven occasions as left-hander Luke Pavillard led the charge with an impressive four goals for the penultimate period, with his tally at the end of the game an astonishing 10 goals.

Leading 13-6 after the final change, victory was all but assured for WA, who scored another four goals for good measure, to confirm their place in the final.

In the fifth to eighth classification games, South Australia beat the New Zealand junior men 16-15 in a tough battle throughout all four quarters of the game that had SA leading 6-5 at the first break, extending their margin to 10-8 at half time.

Another measured third term saw SA continuing to lead 13-10 at the end of the penultimate quarter, however a late charge from NZ saw the result of the game going down to the wire, the game clock eventually beating NZ to a final challenge for victory.

Meanwhile the Australian Born ’98 (B98) team beat a resurgent Queensland to win 15-11 in their opening game of the day, the middle half of the game providing a litany of excitement.

Following a 4-1 advantage to the Aussies in the first term, Queensland charged back into contention in the second to be behind by one goal at half time, the score 7-6.

Another closely fought quarter eventuated in the third, kicked off by Queensland’s Hugh Anstey who levelled the scores 7-7, the battle continuing until the end of that period where the scores were tied at 10-10. Irrespective of the close competition, it was the B98 team who had more left in the tank for the final stanza as they piled on five goals to put the win beyond doubt.

With day four all but over, a late week decision to have the B98 team take on NZ in a Friday night friendly international fixture eventuated, with the home side coming away 15-6 victors.

The Aussies put in the hard yards in the first half of the game to establish a 6-3 leading margin by half time, with all six goals being shared between different players.

New Zealand put in a valiant fight in the third term to score three goals to the B98 team’s four, however they weren’t able to maintain that level of intensity throughout the final quarter of the game, as the Aussies added a further five goals, while keeping NZ scoreless.

The final day of competition will see South Australia take on Queensland for fifth at 11.15am EST, with the bronze medal game between the NSW Waratahs and Victoria set for 2.15pm EST, followed by the championship final between the NSW Blues and Western Australia at 5.15pm EST.

LIVE streaming of the championship final will be available – details to follow.

Day Three: Blues, Waratahs, Victoria & Western Australia to playoff in the semi finals

A New South Wales showdown has been set up between the Blues and Waratahs after both locked away wins on day three of the 20 & Under National Club Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

RELATED: 20 & Under National Championships results and standings

RELATED: Updated schedule for final day of competition

The second of the semi finals will be an east-west encounter when Victoria take on Western Australia, while Queensland, South Australia, the Australian Born ’98 (B98) team and the New Zealand juniors will battle it out for the fifth through to eighth classification.

In the opening game on day three, the NSW Blues came out firing to defeat Victoria 23-10, the result set up by a dominant 6-1 first quarter in favour of the Blues. The score margin escalated to 13-5 at half time, as a further 10 goals in the second half was too much for Victoria to chase down.

Nick Brooks again led the charge to NSW as he scored on five occasions, his effort matched by Victoria’s Chris Perrott. However unlike Brooks, Perrot didn’t have another six players on his side that supported with two or more goals each, the NSW team effort sealing victory.

It was a slightly more challenging road to the semi finals for the NSW Waratahs, who accounted for New Zealand 14-10 to confirm their place in the gold medal qualifying game.

Neither NSW nor New Zealand could be separated in the opening stanza, which was an unusually low scoring 2-2, considering the high scores seen throughout the week so far, however eventually the Waratahs broke loose in the second term, edging to a two goal lead at half time during the last minute and 20 seconds of the second quarter.

For NSW, it was then a matter of managing the margin as they eased to a four-goal lead by outscoring New Zealand by one in each of the third and fourth terms. Gianni Taranto put away five goals for NSW, as five other players also added their name to the scoresheet to help the Waratahs into the semi finals.

Meanwhile Western Australia produced a commanding performance against Queensland to put away a 29-11 victory as William Mackay thundered to nine individual goals for WA.

With a score difference of 16-8 at half time, the game was all but won by WA who had looked to Mackay and Luke Pavillard to lead the offense, those two players alone scoring nine goals between them in the first half, with a further seven in the second.

In day three’s other game, the Australian B98 team accounted for South Australia 20-8, a six goals to one opening stanza proving to be the perfect foundation for their victory.

Although SA were able to match the intensity of the young Aussie team in the second and fourth quarters, it was the first and third where the B98’s were strongest, as they scored a further eight goals in the third period to put the win beyond doubt.

The penultimate day of the men’s competition will commence at 8.30am EST on Friday May 15 when South Australia take on the New Zealand junior team.

Day Two: Western Australia & NSW Blues remain undefeated after two rounds 

Close games have highlighted day two of the competition at the Men’s 20 and Under National Championships, as the Western Australia and the NSW Blues remain undefeated at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

RELATED: 20 & Under National Championships results and standings

Action kicked off with Victoria and South Australia playing out a tight 17-16 result that went the way of the Victorians, as Chris Perrott scored four goals for the winning team, while Leo Hurley and Sam Nangle supported with three each.

Victoria had held a 5-3 advantage at the end of the first term, however the scores equalised at 9-9 by the half time break, with South Australia chasing down the lead with just over a minute and a half remaining in the second term.

South Australia’s Michael Carter scored three of his total five goals in the penultimate period of play, however his efforts weren’t enough to stay in contact with Victoria, who re-established a two-goal, 14-12 lead ahead of the final quarter.

Victoria set about winding up the game in the fourth term, extending their lead to three courtesy of Cameron Gilmour, Max Mellor and Nangle. However it was South Australia who dug deep to bridge the gap, which was inevitably too great as they lost by a slender one-goal margin.

Meanwhile Queensland lost their first game of the tournament, going down to the NSW Waratahs 15-14, the victory the first for the Waratahs this week.

Queensland opened the game with a 5-4 advantage by the end of the first term, William Armstrong and Liam Johns both netting a pair of goals to help their team into the lead. Their lead extended to three goals by half time as Lachlan Lyndon and Patrick Flanagan added their names to the scorers list with Johns, Queensland leading 8-5 at half time.

Although trailing, a strong third period from the Waratahs brought them back into the mix, and then put them in the lead by two goals as they accelerated to seven goals for the quarter, Angus Lambie putting away three of his own.

The scores were briefly drawn at 13 apiece during the fourth term, however the Waratahs found some extra kick to regain the lead in the final four minutes of the game, holding on to win their first game.

Meanwhile in the other games on day two, the Australian Born ’98 (B98) team were dealt their first loss by the NSW Blues who eased away to an 18-8 victory, Nick Brooks a standout performer for NSW with seven goals.

After beating Victoria on day one, the B98 team came up against a strong NSW who wasted no time establishing their lead, which had extended to 9-4 by half time.

Irrespective of the large margin, the B98 team threw down a challenge to NSW in the third term as they scored twice to the Blues three goals. Unfortunately for the young Australian team, a strong six-goal final term from NSW cemented the result, and the Blues status as the pacesetters in Group A.

In the final game on day two, Western Australia were too good for the New Zealand junior men, winning 24-9, an eight goal second quarter the determinant in the strong result for WA.

Western Australia looked to nine different players to score, as Fraser Smith netted four goals, as did Luke Pavillard, while Jordan Kremers-Taylor put his foot down to score five en route to victory.

Day three will commence at 8.30am on Thursday May 14 when NSW Blue takes on Victoria in round three of the group stage, the final round ahead of the semi final round.

Day One

High score margins have been the story of the opening day of the men’s 20 & Under national Championships as New South Wales, the Australian Born ’98 (B98) team, Queensland and Western Australia came away victors at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic centre.

RELATED: 20 & Under National Championships results and standings

In the opening game the NSW Blues defeated South Australia 20-9, in a game where Blues goalkeeper Anthony Hrysanthos and field player Nic Brookes swapped caps for the fourth quarter, which saw Hrysanthos score a goal, no doubt one of the few he will score in his water polo career as a goalkeeper.

The game was won for NSW in the first term, as they raced to a 5-1 lead, the margin extending to 11-3 by half time. Their lead again grew in the third term by three goals, before both teams rounded out the game with four goals in final quarter.

In the following game the Australian B98 team made the most of a fast start to defeat Victoria 16-9. Timothy Putt put away four goals throughout the game for the Australian team, while Jed Thompson produced a standout second stanza to produce three goals.

While the Victorians attempted to get back into the game, they couldn’t find a way past the Australian team’s defence as the score margin escaped them throughout the second half of the game.

Later in the afternoon Western Australia played out a strong final three quarters to beat the NSW Waratahs 22-13, after trailing 5-3 at the end of the first term.

The turning point in the game came with three minutes remaining in the second quarter, when Western Australia drew level with NSW 7-7. Fraser Smith then scored two successive goals, and Andrew Ford scored his second of four for the game to have WA ahead 10-7 at half time.

A strong third term consolidated the lead for WA as they outscored NSW six goals to two, five different players finding the back of the cage for the period. A further six goals to the four of NSW put the win beyond doubt for WA, as Smith top scored for the game with six goals, while left-hander Jordan Kremers Taylor was close behind with five.

In the final men’s game, Queensland turned a two goal 6-4 margin at the end of the first quarter into a 24-13 Victory of New Zealand with a commanding 7-3 second stanza breaking the game open for the team from the Sunshine state.

William Armstrong and Patrick Flanagan led the scoring for Queensland with five goals each, in a game that saw nine players score for Queensland. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Jerome McGuinness and Tamati Harris both scored four goals for their side.

Competition continues from 8.30m on Wednesday May 13, when Victoria take on South Australia.

Preview

New South Wales will hope to make it seven successive 20 & under national titles this week at the 20 & Under National Championships, when they take on the best junior teams from around the country at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

RELATED: 2015 20 & Under National Championships information, details

The last time someone other than NSW triumphed was 2008, when Queensland broke the NSW stranglehold, and in 2015 there will be four other states hoping to put a halt to the host state’s current hot streak of wins.

Irrespective of the determination of the other states to win, they will first need to overcome the NSW Blue team who come into the contest ranked first, with Western Australia second and the NSW Waratahs third.

Also throwing their hat in the ring is South Australia, Queensland and Victoria, as well as two invitational teams in the Australian Born ’98 (B98) team and a New Zealand team taking to the water.

Despite the Australian B98 and New Zealand teams being able to contest for points and goal averages, they will be relegated to the fifth to eighth classification bracket as the tournament progresses, as they are not an Australian based state.

Although not able to fight for a gold medal, Australian B98 head coach Andrei Kovalenko said that the experience of this week’s competition would be a key opportunity to develop his players’ skills, in what will be their first proper tournament as complete team.

“The aim this week is to make the B98 players the best they can be and fill them with as much water polo knowledge as possible. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not here to muck about, we want to claim some wins but developing these players is the key,” Kovalenko said.

“This is our first ever tournament as a full strength team. Last year we travelled to New Zealand for the Pan Pacific Youth Water Polo Festival without our full squad, so this will be our first real test together.”

Kovalenko continued to outline that the new FINA rules for junior and youth water polo that are being implemented will be one of the biggest learning curves for the teams involved in the championships this week.

“This week will be a challenge with the new rules, and everyone will have a new

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